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The German word for cipher machine.

The Enigma Machine

The Enigma machine, invented by Arthur Scherbius in 1918, is an electromechanical rotor-based cipher machine that was initially produced for the commercial market. While its predecessor was not very successful, the later lamp-based model known today was used by Germany during the Second World War to encrypt its communications.

It has become the most well known cipher machine in the world due to the recent publicity surrounding the work of Allied codebreakers during the Second World War.

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Photos of Enigmas in Use

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Photographs of Enigma machines in use are very rare. During the war, it was strickly forbidden to take any photographs of the Enigma. However, there were some people who did take some photographs - and this is a collection of some of the photographs in my collection. Valuable information can be gained from these photographs, such as the personnel who operated the machine, and how the machine and associated equipment were set up. For instance, the lid of the Enigma in this image is propped up by an Enigma battery, with one man operating the machine, two writing down the cipher-text, and another observing. An important point of note is that in all of the photographs, the Steckerbrett (plugboard) is not visible to the viewer. At the very least, with the sensitivity of this cipher equipment, the plugboard was obscured from view. Since most were personal photographs, most photographs of Enigmas that exist are small-format photographs. There are also a few, large-format propaganda-type photographs that include the Enigma, though on the whole the Enigma was regarded as sensitive equipment and therefore not photographed.

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